The $64,000 Question – Answered

So, feeling like you do about both Romney and Obama, who ARE you going to vote for?
That’s more or less what I was asked by a friend recently, and I promised I would be answering here.  There’s going to be a long and complicated explanation before I get to the answer, though, so get comfortable. 🙂
I get the feeling that my liberal friends expect I’m going to go with Romney for “pro-life reasons.”  Meanwhile my conservative Catholic friends seem convinced that I am an Obama supporter and am headed straight to hell.  Gosh, it’s so inconvenient of me to get all complicated and refuse to hop into one of the little boxes we all like to put each other in.
If I were going to self-identify as a member of a political party, I’d call myself a Democrat.  I’m more or less a bleeding heart liberal, if you want to know the truth.  When I take that “who should you vote for” survey that’s been making the rounds this political season, I’m told I should vote for the Green Party candidate, that I agree with about 95% of her positions.  Of course, as Sister Louise would have said, there’s always that 5%.  And what a 5% it is.
I like President Obama.  I think he’s a good man with good intentions.  Pretty much everything the haters say about him isn’t true.  In my opinion he’s been quite effective–it’s just that his detractors don’t approve of his achievements.  Like Obamacare, which I’m excited about, even though I’d prefer a completely government-run system like the ones in Europe. (There.  I said it.)
HOWEVER.  Obviously, if you know me or have read pretty much anything I’ve written including the title of this blog, you know that abortion is a huge issue for me.  And apparently it’s become a huge issue for our President as well, an issue on which he has come down firmly and stridently on the wrong side.  That was why I did not vote for him last time.  Even though I liked him more then than I do now, honestly, I just could not bring myself to push the button and thereby tacitly approve of his radically pro-choice position (and yes, I do believe he is more radical in this area than many other pro-choice politicians).
Now, I don’t think it is any way wrong or sinful to cast a vote for a pro-choice politician (if that is not your REASON for voting for him) in the presence of other proportionate reasons for your vote.  I don’t rule out ever voting for a pro-choice candidate in the future.  What is a proportionate reason is open to one’s prudential judgment, reached by informing one’s conscience about Church teachings, studying the issues, and ideally praying over the decision.  But there are other reasons that I won’t be voting for President Obama.
Frankly, his HHS mandate INFURIATED me, and a lot of other “progressive” Catholics.  So many stood with him on his health care plan BECAUSE of their Catholic faith, and then he basically spit on them.  I know that a lot of you will just think I secretly hate women and don’t want them to get birth control but this is seriously a religious freedom issue, whether you believe it or not.  Still, I don’t think in the end the mandate will pass constitutional muster, so it may not matter on a practical level, but it speaks to a part of the President’s character that I do not admire.
It’s the same part of his character, I believe, which has led him to quietly allow torture to continue; and to expand on his power to spy on, to imprison, to even execute Americans without trial or explanation.  And I’m not going to wear myself out providing the links for all this.  I’ve read and posted many over the past several weeks and can’t get anyone to even discuss them with me.  Republicans like this side of Obama and don’t want to draw attention to it, and Democrats don’t like it and don’t want to draw attention to it.  But someone needs to.  Ditto the drone warfare, which I knew nothing about until recently.  Part of what makes me call myself a Democrat is that we are supposed to be against these kinds of things.
So now let’s talk about Mr. Romney.  I said before that I didn’t think Romney believes in anything but Romney, and after watching three debates and following this race pretty closely, that opinion has not changed.  I just can’t think of any good reason to vote for him.  I have absolutely NO CONFIDENCE that he will make any meaningful changes in abortion policy.  I sincerely hope I am wrong, but let’s remember that his sister, his wife, and most recently a campaign surrogate have all more or less gone on the record saying he won’t make any changes and that this is just not a big issue for him.  Yes, I know what he says himself, but he says all kinds of things all the time, half of which contradict each other–he will say anything to win.  You can say–and I have actually read some comments from prominent pro-life sources that try to assert this–that his wishy-washy comments are just to get votes and he’ll hop on board the pro-life train as soon as he’s elected.  But how do I know that?  And don’t we want a president who is unapologetically pro-life no matter what, if that’s the only reason he’s getting our vote in the first place?  Let’s not forget, too, that Mr. Romney used to be one of those “pro-life for myself, pro-choice for others” politicians, and he has a great story to back up his reasons for his stance–the botched illegal abortion that killed a young relative of his.  I haven’t heard him mention her lately, have you?  Wouldn’t you like to know what changed his mind?
Like I said, I’m basically a Democrat at heart, so a Republican is going to have to provide something extra to make me want to vote for him.  Mr. Romney’s stance on abortion does not convince me.  And I know he says he will repeal the HHS mandate, but I don’t know if I believe it.  Plus as I’ve said I think it’s a moot point anyway, plus his repealing of it is tied to his repealing of Obamacare, which doesn’t exactly appeal to this uninsured American who will be spending more hard-earned money this month on medication than I can afford.  Oh, and that’s hard-earned but UNTAXED money because we are part of that lowly 47% who just won’t ever take responsibility for our own lives.  I suppose Mr. Romney would like us to just not claim our five dependents and reject Mr. Bush’s tax credits so that we can pay income tax in addition to the self-employment tax which we DO have to pay.
In 2008, I did not vote for President.  I went to the polls and voted in the local races, but I just skipped that part.
This year, that doesn’t feel quite right. I’ve read that not voting at all is cowardly or lazy.  I know I am not lazy and I hope I am not a coward.  But I read another article this year that said that in voting for a candidate you are effectually agreeing with their stances, that you are complicit in what they do.  And I just can’t bring myself to do that.  Maybe it would be different if I lived in a swing state.  But Mitt Romney takes Tennessee no matter what I do tomorrow.  That gives my vote a sort of purity–it’s just between me and my conscience.
I could pick a third party candidate, like the Libertarian, who is against the drone wars and the eroding of our freedoms, or the Green Party candidate with whom I appear to largely agree, but unfortunately my areas of disagreement with both of them are in significant areas.  So here is what I have decided to do.
I am going to write in “None of the Above.”  I want the record to reflect that this pro-life Democrat could not find a candidate that she could in good conscience vote for.  For me, that is the most honest vote, after tons of study of both secular and religious documents, much discussion and debate, and plenty of prayerful reflection.
I hope that you will respect my decision, as I plan to respect yours.

UPDATE:  In 2016, my conclusions are different, and I will be explaining them in a future post.

Hello world!

Since 2001, I have written a bi-monthly column on life issues in the East Tennessee Catholic newspaper.  Recently I learned my column was being cut “to make room for some new voices.”  I was disappointed because I still felt like I had more to say.
I’ve often felt that I should have a blog.  I’m a writer and I have lots of opinions, so why not?  I’ve tried a couple of times over the years put never made it to a second post.  But I think this time is going to be different.   What I’m planning is to take a couple of different ideas for blogs that I’ve had in the past and combine them.  I’ll still write about life issues–which most often has meant abortion in the past, but also includes war, the death penalty, assisted reproductive technology, contraception, and more–but I have other issues I want to talk about as well.
So you may read about abortion one day, and the history of Knoxville the next.  One day I’ll write about being the mother of five, including three teenagers; the next I might rant about my theories on education for awhile (my family will no doubt be glad that I’ve found a new outlet for my occasional rants!).  Because I am so busy, I will flesh the blog out by rerunning old columns that I still think are topical.
So, welcome!  Please join right in and comment–because a blog is no fun if you feel like you are talking to yourself.